Skip to main content

Borderlands 2′s DLC Mechromancer makes for slick solo play

Borderlands 2 Gaige
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Borderlands 2 has only been out for three weeks, but it’s already time to re-roll, so call up your buddies and start a new character, namely Gaige, the Mechromancer. Announced back in August, the loot shooter’s fifth playable character is out a little bit earlier than expected, available free of charge to anyone who pre-ordered the game and for a few extra bucks for those that didn’t. How does Gaige compare to her Siren, Commando, Gunzerker, and Assassin vault hunting companions? She is, as Gearbox promised, both more user friendly and technically complex, depending on how you approach developing her skills. Gaige is also arguably the best character to use for solo play.

First, Gaige’s special skill is calling in her giant robot pal, Deathtrap. Think of him like a floating torso of destruction, all arms and anger. Gaige’s skill tree Best Friends Forever—described over the summer as “girlfriend mode,” much to the Internet’s ire—is mostly made up of skills that augment Deathtrap. One skill lets him refill your shield once its been depleted, another lets him do an enemy-clearing shockwave attack by clapping his hands. In beefing up this skill tree during a demo of Gaige last week, I found that Deathtrap made playing without actual partners a lot more manageable than the other classes. Deathtrap’s more versatile than the other classes skills, and more aggressive a combat tool than Axton’s turrets.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, though, is Gaige’s Controlled Chaos skill tree, a series of skills built to satisfy the number-fiddling perfectionist player. The core of this tree is that Anarchy skill. Anarchy works like this: As you shoot enemies, Anarchy is stacked from 1 to 250, as indicated by a little icon at the base of the screen. Each stacks increases damage dealt, but takes away accuracy an equal amount. By the time it’s stacked to 250, even the weakest gun can become a destroyer. The rub is that you can’t manually reload a weapon without resetting the Anarchy stack back to zero, meaning fights are a taut balancing act. Rush into a throng of enemies to make up for your lack of accuracy with a high stack can lead to success, provided your ammo clip is full, but you might be stuck reloading at a crucial moment. Further skills in the tree like Discord, which does let you reload but eats up five Anarchy stacks, can make the tree even more intricate.

Borderlands 2 new character
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In my playthough, I mixed these trees to try and find an optimal solo experience. The benefits of a beefed up robot companion to make up for the absence of human partners coupled with the deeper strategy of Anarchy maintenance makes for a damned exciting Borderlands 2 game, and one that is distinguished from the existing classes. Is it different enough to warrant a purchase? Possibly only for diehard fans. For anyone getting the character for free though, Gaige is a lot of fun.

One note: Her character design is a little ridiculous. Take note, Gearbox: Your fans are going to cosplay as your characters. It’s inevitable. They are nerds, you are nerds, it all works out. Gaige, however, looks like a caricature of the average gaming/comic/anime convention goer. Does she really need the rainbow-colored pixel graphic lunchbox on her belt? You’ve already got that audience on lock down, you didn’t need to actually build them into the game!

Maybe I’m reading a bit too much into it.

Editors' Recommendations

Anthony John Agnello
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Anthony John Agnello is a writer living in New York. He works as the Community Manager of and his writing has…
Embracer Group finally sells Gearbox Software, but keeps Gearbox Publishing
Mordecai in Borderlands 1.

Embracer Group finally confirmed that it is selling Borderlands studio Gearbox Entertainment to Take-Two Interactive, but there's a catch: Embracer Group will retain ownership of Gearbox Publishing.

Embracer Group acquired Gearbox Entertainment in 2021 but is now offloading much of it as part of a restructuring plan meant to recoup money after a deal fell through in 2023. Take-Two Interactive's 2K already published all the Borderlands games, so it's a sensible $460 million purchase that also nets them franchises like Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, Homeworld, Risk of Rain, Brothers in Arms, and Duke Nukem. In terms of studios, Take-Two Interactive is only acquiring Gearbox Software, Gearbox Montreal, and Gearbox Studio Quebec, the company's primary development arms. Randy Pitchford will remain CEO as well.

Read more
World of Goo 2 might just be the Nintendo Switch’s next must-own co-op game
A built structure in World of Goo 2.

When I sat down to demo World of Goo 2 at this year’s GDC, I noted to the developers on hand how surprising it was to see a sequel after so long. “It’s been, what? Ten years?” I said. I was very far off the mark: They noted that the original World of Goo launched in 2008. After playing a few levels (and having an existential crisis over time’s rapid passing), I’d find myself wondering how such an obvious slam dunk didn’t come sooner.

Like its predecessor, World of Goo 2 is a physics-based puzzle game where players craft structures from little, gooey critters. It presents a series of engineering challenges, as poorly built structures will topple under the weight of all those jiggly little pals. Rather than reinventing that concept entirely, World of Goo 2 adds some wild new ideas onto that stable structure that opens up its puzzle potential. The result is a chaotic co-op game that’s a perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch.

Read more
You need to try PlayStation VR2’s most psychedelic game yet
Key art for Akka Arrh shows psychedelic images.

You know that it's a busy year for gaming when a project by an industry legend launches with hardly any fanfare. That's exactly what happened in February 2023 with Akka Arrh. Created by Jeff Minter and his eccentric studio Llamasoft, the neon-tinted shooter is a remake of a 1982 Atari game that never saw the light of day after being deemed too difficult. Minter got the greenlight to revive the project, bringing it to life as a retro arcade shooter built in his unmistakable style.

While the project was exciting for game historians, it didn't exactly crack into the mainstream (it only has 37 user reviews on Steam). Thankfully, Akka Arrh getting a second chance to shine this week as its new PlayStation 5 version adds PlayStation VR2 support. While that might not be enough to make it a commercial hit, it does give PSVR2 owners a good reason to dust off their headset and check out a delightfully oddball project from one of gaming's true visionaries.
It's a trip
Akka Arrh is the rare example of a game that might be easier to explain on paper than in practice. In this throwback arcade shooter, players control a stationary ship that's tasked with protecting pods from attacking aliens. To fend off foes, players drop bombs that blow up in a different geometric pattern on each level's map. Every time an enemy touches that blast radius, it blows up in the same pattern, chaining to other enemies. The goal is to keep an uninterrupted chain going as long as possible by using a limited number of bullets to knock out foes that can't be destroyed by bombs and grabbing power-ups by hovering the cursor over them.

Read more